“Hannah kept wailing even when Eli the priest mistook her for a drunk and questioned her sincerity. She simply set the record straight by telling him, ‘I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief'” (1Samuel 1: 15-16).
She didn’t care how she looked as she prayed. God knew her heart…
We know Hannah for her sorrow… She longed for a son, but couldn’t have children. We know her for her faithfulness. She never gave up hope that God would hear her prayer. We also know her for her sacrifice. She dedicated her baby Samuel to the Lord and left him at the temple to serve God “all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Hannah is one of the most recognizable women in Scripture for all these reasons. Many of us remember her story for her deep anguish over not being a mother. We all most likely recall her time at the temple, taking her request to God in powerful prayer. And what mom wouldn’t be impacted by Hannah’s bold move – leaving her little blessing at the temple to be raised by Eli the priest?
And did you know after God answered her prayer for a child to deliver her from her barrenness, God continued to answer the prayers for Hannah? She had two more sons and three daughters– while Samuel “grew up in the presence of the Lord” (>1 Samuel 2:21).
Hannah trusted God without doubt or concern. Her reverent fear of the Lord was just one more quality of her godly character.
We have to get serious in our prayer lives.
We have to determine that we will hang on and not stop believing until we see an answer.
That’s what Hannah did year after year.
She “showed up.”
She entered her conversations with God broken, resentful, bitter, unhappy, defeated and moaned like a drunken woman. She was herself without pretense.
Do you not think God knows our humaness?
But one year Hannah decided to focus on God and His provision instead of dwelling on her unchanging circumstances. Hannah did something that brought her into the inner courtyard of God’s presence: she prayed with determination.
And her relationship with God went from the possible to the personal, from inactive to active, from nominal to phenomenal.
I heard a teaching today about prayer…but not the way we ususally think of prayer…the point was being made that God already knows what we have need of before we even ask. Ever think of that…and have you ever questioned why, if He already knows, do we need to pray about it?
Because my long journey with the Lord has been a constant pondering about prayer and how to do it. There are so many types of prayer and where do we start?
What has really set me free is the fact that I have pressed into a very personal relationship with a very real God through His Son Jesus and the freedom has come in my “just talking to Him”.
So, I prefer to call prayer, “talking to Jesus”…It just makes it more personal to me.
That teacher this morning said we pray to Him to release our own FAITH….
MY FAITH ACTIVATES MY PRAYERS IN HIS PRESENCE.
That is why we ask!
It is acknowledging the fact that you are believing Him for His absolute involvement in your life and your desires, your healings, your journey….
There are many types of ways to pray, or talk to God.
Right now I am studying about Warfare.
We know we don’t fight flesh and blood, but principalities and wickedness in high places. We are seated in the heavenly realm in the spirit to adequately combat the enemy and all his forces of hell that want to defeat us on every level. But we have the power that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelling on the inside of us. We have the power to fight off those wicked spirits and be victorious.
Having been beaten down and disappointed, do you find it hard to boldly and specifically ask God for something in prayer?
I know I do.
But here Hannah was, at the lowest point in her life, offering up a request that she had probably thought a thousand times. The Bible says we don’t receive because we don’t ask. Don’t give up on asking for what you most desire. And do it believing that God gives good gifts to those who ask because He does, and He is a rewarder of all who seek Him.
Let’s not linger at the gate of God’s presence, going through the motions of worshipping God and yet holding sadness and bitterness in our hearts.
Let’s count ourselves as ones who have been brushed by His greatness and honored to have the profound privilege of talking to God on every level and make our requests known.
Let’s rejoice that He gave His power to us to combat the evil one dwelling on this earth. And we can do that well. It just takes determination!
He did NOT leave us here powerless and defeated. But as His children, we are equipped to walk within His Kingdom in the here and now.
The room was very dark as the movie played on a huge screen right in front of my face. I had never watched the Lord of the Rings series, and since my ankle hurt that day, I decided to ride the bike in the gym’s movie room instead of the treadmill in another area of the gym.
I fumbled in the dark and felt my way to just the right bike for me and because I couldn’t see, just coming out of the bright light, finally was able to punch in the right speed and time for my ride.
I had come in right in the middle of the movie but thought it would give me a good idea of whether I would like it or not and serve to hold my attention while I pumped out the miles.
Unfortunately for me I came in right when these humongous, ravenous demon wolf-type things, with what could only be demons themselves on their backs, were attacking the good army and demolishing them with their ravenous, canine teeth that were bloody and black.
The scene went on and on until I thought that I just wasn’t listening to God by picking this room for my exercise routine that day.
I was dodging and ducking as these demons jumped into the camera with bloody drool dripping. As I sat there peddling, I couldn’t help but be thinking I had to get out of there.
I needed peace–not whatever this was.
But in the midst of this horror and my attempt to leave the room, God spoke to me.
Ever have that happen? In the most unlikely place that you would expect, He speaks.
One time he spoke to me in a bar bathroom (I was there for a talent show my friend took me too, in case you’re wondering if I hang out at bars), and I was shocked at the time….but that is another story.
“I am looking, Lord. I don’t like it.”
“Look at the warriors in the good army.”
The warriors fought with everything in them. Every time one good guy was attacked by a demon wolf, (I am sure this dark army had a name but it escaped me), he fought back and with great warfare and managed to kill a great number of them. But more would come and render some of the slower guys to pieces. It seems though, that the more the good guys fought the more they were attacked by the demons of hell itself.
In the end the good guys won and the demons were dead…to only return at a later time in the movie. I knew Jesus wanted me to see something about my own life in this illustration He was showing me.
“Dixie, isn’t this what you have been experiencing in your life recently?”
I began to see what He was showing me. First of all, He was reassuring me that He knew exactly what I was experiencing and was with me on the journey, but was teaching me more about extreme spiritual warfare.
Starting about 6 months ago, all hell has broke loose within my personal life and those I love. Just as one thing was fought through and seemingly won, another thing would happen that would literally shock and sweep me off my spiritual feet.
I have literally felt each time like giving up on all that I do. And it seems those wolves are still coming, and the more I battle in the spirit the more they come.
They want to steal my life.
They want to make me feel like a failure.
They want to render me helpless and defeated.
Just as those good guys in the movie used their weapons of warfare I am more determined to use mine. I don’t fight by my own power or I would surely die. The weapons of my warfare are not carnal but are mighty before God for the pulling down of the enemies strongholds that would seek to envelope me and tear me to pieces.
For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds 2 Cor. 10:4
At some point those wolves will get it…they will see they cannot defeat me because I may look “defeatable” but behind me stand mighty warriors of the most high God and they have to get through them first.
In myself I am weak and no different than any of you. But it is in my weakness HE is made strong.
“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!” 2 Cor. 12:9-11
So, I watched the scene in the Lord of the Rings until the battle played out…and the good guys were plum worn out but were able to ride off, alive, and the enemy was defeated, with carcasses of demons strewn over the mountainside.
Boy, I wish He would tell me how long it’s going to last and when I can see His total deliverance from this time of attack..but isn’t that what it is all about?
Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Eph 6:10-18
It is learning to always be on our guard and decked out in our armor so that we find our true joy and deliverance in Him for always?
As my children grew into teenagers nothing prepared me for the sudden lack of control a parent feels when our kids start separating from us to find their own way in the world.
Talking to Jesus about them got me through and I know their angels were busy. They were normal kids and got into their share of mischief as they moved into independence.
Since they are adults now, I hear stories about their exploits as teens that are new to me and for that I say thank you God for protecting them even when I didn’t have a clue.
Our simple trust is that He is there and those assigned angels are busy every step they take. I prayed many times for God to protect them in the foolishness of youth, and to allow them to learn from their mistakes, but to also keep them from being harmed along the way.
One evening my son Jason had gone to a drive in movie with a group of teens. Again, as in the story of Greg and the plane incident a couple of blogs back, I was woken up around midnight and had this urgency to get up and pray for him.
The only words that I could get out was Psalm 91:3 that says “He will keep us from the snare of the enemy”. I prayed, “Lord, keep Jason from being caught in a hidden trap or danger, and deliver him from the snare of the enemy.” I prayed this over and over until he arrived home.
With a look of shock on his face when he saw me, he wanted to know why I was up. I explained that I couldn’t sleep because God had woke me up and told me to pray for him. He had a very strange look on his face as he disappeared into his room.
The next morning he explained that as I was praying at midnight he had left the car to visit the rest room. As his back was to the door a bunch of gang members approached him and hit him in the back of the head with a large slat of wood. Stunned, he turned, and as he stood there he was infused with supernatural strength and proceeded to fight off his attackers. He threw them into walls and watched them slide down to the floor, (picture it). As he stood there waiting for them to get up they all jumped up and ran from him in terror. He said when he walked out of the rest room he didn’t see them anywhere.
He was just one teenager and there were many of them.
I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t been obedient to pray. I know there must have been a band of angels in this case, posted as sentry’s all around that rest room giving Jason supernatural strength. Or maybe he just thought he was doing the fighting and it was really a warrior angel. Simple obedience when we are called to pray is key.
My step-daughter, Christina, was a new driver and she and her Dad had bought a Miata convertible for her to drive to and from school. She was driving down the freeway one day with the top down and leaned over for a brief second to adjust the radio, and lost control of her car and over corrected. It hit the dirt on the side of the road and flipped upside down on the side of the road, which was a slight incline. The car just continued to turn over and landed right side up. There was no explanation when the Highway Patrol came as to why the car continued to roll uphill and land right side up with her still sitting in the passenger seat stunned but unharmed. Where was her head as it hit the ground upside down with no top on the car? I instantly recognized the work of her angel keeping her sitting in that seat and not being thrown out of the car.
When I was a young mom I remember one Christmas that there was no money. My kids were around 12 and 8 and I could barely pay the bills, let alone buy presents for them. I had them gather with me in prayer that God would provide a Christmas for us miraculously. I told them that God would provide for fun Christmas for them.
We believed together that God would send an angel our way. One night around bed time there came a knock at the door.
We all three ran to the door, expecting. There was a lady standing there whom we did not know. She handed us an envelope with $200 in it and said it was from God. I looked at the kids and then back at this heavenly messenger and all I could see of her was her back as she hurried down the street and then she was gone.
I bought Christmas gifts for my amazed kids and they will always remember the Christmas that God bought our presents.
If only we would live in expectancy for His constant intervention we would experience true kingdom living at its best.
I was very intrigued by the concept of angels and their role in protecting my children. I had read in Matthew how the angels that watch over our children were special angels that always behold the face of our Father.
“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in Heaven” Matthew 18:10
These angels have special access to the face of God.
Didn’t He say that if anyone harm a child, it would be better for him if a millstone is tied around his neck, and he be cast into the sea, than to have to face God’s wrath? Oh yes, God is very watchful over our kids and they have their own very special angels that reports back to God.
There was the time I walked out into the front yard to check on my 4-year-old, and witnessed him riding his Hot Wheel Trike like a hot rod from driveway to driveway across the street.
It happened so fast I didn’t have time to even scream.
He was heading into a driveway with a hedge that blocked his view. There was a pickup truck backing out at the same time and he was heading right into its path. In a split seconds time I witnessed an unseen force grab the wheel of his trike and jerk it into the curb and stop his ascent into the path of the truck. An angel stepped in at that moment to keep him safe
I had to leave my 2 year old little girl with a friend one day so that I could attend a seminar. The friend was to pick Heather up that morning and drive to her home. On the way, Heather was sitting on the passenger side happily eating a dry bowl of Cheerios.
A car came out of nowhere and plowed into Heather’s side of the car, totaling the car, and sending my friend to the hospital on a stretcher. It happened to be in front of a church, and my husband was called immediately to come. When he arrived an EMT was sitting in the church holding our baby on his lap. Heather was laughing and had totally charmed the young man.
I was told that somehow, miraculously, she did not leave her seat upon impact, and was totally uninjured (that was in the days before car seats or seat belts were required and that horrifies me now).
Her Cheerios were scattered all over the car– but she never left the seat! And whereas a child is usually traumatized by this kind of accident, she wasn’t shaken in the least.
When I finally arrived back home I had to examine her myself, of course. There on her little back was one bruise in the shape of a thumb print where her angel held her in place as the car was crashed into. I think God allowed the thumb print to be there to allow me to see His protection for my children. There could be no other explanation.
When Jason was about 5 he began asking me about God’s angels and could he see them. Not wanting to quench the faith of a child, I explained that angels were spirits and that normally we can’t just see angels unless God lets us.
Jason said he was going to pray and ask God to let him see an angel. This kid had prayed for a turtle once and every morning for 3 days in a row a turtle appeared on our front door step. I told him to please pray and tell God to stop sending turtles.
I had no doubt if he prayed to see an angel, he would!
The next morning we were sitting at the breakfast table. Jason asked me why I came into his room the night before. I said I didn’t.
He said, “Yes, you did Mom. I woke up and was scared, and called for you. When you didn’t come, I asked God to take away my fear. You then came into my room, and in the light that was shining through my bedroom window I saw you in a long, white nightgown. Then you sat on my bed and rubbed my head until I went back to sleep.”
I said, “Son, that wasn’t Mom you saw. You prayed for an angel and God brought one to you when you needed to be comforted, and He let you see her.” His little face just beamed at the recognition of what God had done for him.
Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. They have all kinds of jobs to do and one of them is to assist those of us who are heirs of salvation through Jesus. If you care to do your own study of angels and their purposes here are some places to look:
•They are vast in number (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 5:11).
•They do not die (Luke 20:36).
•They are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14).
•They are without bodies (Luke 24:39).
•They can assume bodily shape as people (Genesis 19:1-5).
•There is gender among them (Zechariah 5:9-11).
•They are wise, powerful, have personalities, are moral beings, and vastly inferior to God (2 Samuel 14:20; 2 Peter 2:11; Mark 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 16).
Did you ever watch the Seinfeld episode of the soup Nazi? It was very funny. Seinfeld and his buddies would go to lunch at a restaurant that specialized in soup. If they said one negative thing or complained about the soup in any way, the soup Nazi (the owner) would grab the soup back and tell them in a gruff and rigid voice to get out of his restaurant and then he would say, “ONE YEAR, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!”
I always think of that episode when I meet rigid, religious people, who have these set of rules that their friends should live by when it comes to serving God, and would treat them badly if they didn’t toe the line.
It is like I can hear them saying, “ONE YEAR, NO GRACE FOR YOU!!!!
Have you met one of these people?
I call them the Devotional Nazis. They live by a set of rules and regulations and meetings and laws that they tend to impose on you as a means to draw closer to God. They look at outward appearances and proclaim the sins of others without looking on their own lives and realize that we all fall short of living up to Pharasitical standards of acceptance. It saddens me when I see these kinds of people for they struggle and work and presume judgment of others to achieve greatness in the Kingdom of God, when all along Jesus already paid the price for their freedom from those very laws. They failed to see those rules only were there in the first place to show us we needed a Savior. We could never measure up without Him. And it saddens me even more how many people their judgments injure and hinder in their growth because they just never measure up.
But it is too hard to change for many and too hard to let go of the control and the superiority of being the judge of others in the Body for then they might have to look inward. The sin in our lives is often just the surface symptom of a deeper level of the heart that the Lord is working on. So, how can we look on the outward ‘sin’ of others and presume we can judge their condition when God is the only one who can see the heart and the only one who knows how to heal that heart.
Do we really understand Grace?
I think grace is an ongoing revelation to our souls as long as we are on this earth with our limited knowledge. Everything seems conditional in our lives.
If you love me, then I will love you.
If you serve me, then I will serve you.
If we can find the right set of conditions to meet and we do it, our happiness is secured. What happens though, if we can’t meet our end of the bargain? Because for every promise of reward there is a promise of punishment in the world we live in. This is where anger, fear, and insecurity begin to encompass us.
We are on a merry go round.
The message is that accomplishment precedes acceptance, and achievement precedes approval.
And around and around we go.
Are you ready to get off the Merry Go Round?
Have you ever met someone who has lived their whole life trying to live up to someone’s conditions for approval and love that was set into motion by a demanding parent? And they may be 50 years old and still caught in the pattern of spinning their wheels trying to measure up to someone’s expectations. They have great potential but are never satisfied so they never accomplish a thing, when, unknowingly to them, God had a plan for their life all along.
We get caught up in perfectionism and we have all sorts of ways to try to justify our actions, but none of those justifications can change the fact that instead of feeling accomplished, we allow impossible burdens to be put on ourselves that ultimately produces exhaustion, bitterness , shame and a general feeling of failure. It may be all we know and we may even impose our conditions of acceptance on others. Maybe even our children.
So, in our Christian life many of us see that it was Gods’ plan to send Jesus in our place, so that we are now “in” and on our way to Heaven. But then we fall back into that way of trying to achieve His acceptance and think it is our blood, sweat and tears that keep us “IN”. We think that in order for God to love us, we have to change, and be good. We think that if we want His love we have to earn it.
I thought that for years. I was very legalistic and thought that the more I worked for the Kingdom, at the expense of my time with my children, the higher I would become with God and the more accepted I would be by Him. I managed for years to climb that ladder, (I thought) but as most stuffed down emotions always do it all comes to the surface and sort of implodes our lives into disillusionment and confusion and destruction.
Have you noticed that the people in the bible that we call heroes are not really heroes? They were mostly all losers at first, before God got a hold of them. Prostitutes, liars, adulterers, thieves, doubters, scornful, etc. etc. They fall and fail, they make huge mistakes. They get afraid. They are selfish, deceptive, egotistical and unreliable. Actually the bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with His rescue, our sin, with His grace, His salvation. They all became great men and women of God but not until they surrendered to God. Just like us!!
The focus of the bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer!! It is not about us. It is about Him. He came just so we can be free of the demands of the law.
Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return.
Grace is love coming to you that has nothing to do with you.
It is being loved and accepted when you are unlovable.
Grace has nothing to do with the loved, but everything to do with the Lover.
You are the beloved.
Grace doesn’t make demands it just gives.
Seriously, when you think about it doesn’t it look like Jesus is always giving of Himself, and did you notice, according to today’s church standards, He hung out with the wrong people?
There were the prostitutes, the adulterers, the tax collectors and the like. The worst sinners of Jesus’ day received his most joyful, compassionate welcome and love—because He knew that once they hung out with Him they would change from the inside out.
By nature we resist promises that seem too good to be true. So we feel so much better and SO MUCH MORE IN CONTROL, when we work for His acceptance and then we can feel like it is about us and how much we earned His favor.
Then we can give ourselves a pat on the back.
The balance for our lives has been settled already folks. Jesus has already done it all and we are covered and loved and accepted into His beloved fold.
All we have to do is receive it…take the gift of Grace into our lives and walk in it.
But we are uncomfortable because grace turns the tables on us, relieving us of our precious sense of control.
Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up, and the obligation to fix ourselves.
Because He came to set the captives free life does not have to be an exhaustive effort to justify ourselves and validate ourselves.
Only He can fix us!! Not our husbands. Not our children. Not our friends. Not even ourselves.
His Grace reaches out and pulls us to His chest and cradles us in His strong arms of forgiveness and love.
We are already accepted. It is not about us. It is about Him.
So, when I recently heard a dear teacher proclaim that the only way to spend quality time with Jesus is getting up at 5 am and spending an hour in the bible, and an hour in prayer, and then they would develop a better relationship with God, and that it was the only way to achieve relationship with him, I flinched. That is how I used to be. I would keep myself to strict standards of rules and points to gain entrance into the higher echelon of spiritual people. It took many years and humongous trials of loss before I finally gave up the fight for control and just let go. And yes, reading His word is part of it as well as talking to Him in length. But I love my walks with Jesus and chatting with Him in the car, and enjoying His presence in so many other ways.
When I finally let go of all control it felt like I had lost my faith because I wasn’t doing anything to earn it.
I had given up.
It was in that time of distress and loss that Jesus came to me and delivered me of some very real attacks in my life. I cried out to Him and asked why He had helped me because I had done nothing for Him at all. I wasn’t going to church, or reading the bible, or ministering at all. And He whispered to me—
“I love you, Dixie.”
He taught me that He loved me just as much in my losses and depression as when I was reaching out to others. It didn’t matter if I ever did another thing for my Lord, He would love me just as much as he did in my destitution and rebellion.
Don’t let people put heavy burdens on you. Walk in your own integrity and know there is not a set of rules to live by to be accepted into the lap of Jesus. Your service for Him is born out of Him being your Lover and when you get that close to Him you naturally want to tell others about Him. Otherwise it is a heavy burden and a constant merry go round of trying to get in his good graces.
Let Him love you regardless of your struggle with wanting to earn that love. Breathe in His peace!!